Planning an early morning summit to catch the sunrise is essential if you want to enjoy a view few are lucky to see. Of course, timing is the main emphasis in most guides on the topic, but gear is just as important. Alongside our pointers for timing your climb for a mountain sunrise, below we have put together what we believe to be the definitive gear list for a pre-dawn hike up your chosen mountain.
If you are a trail runner then hitting a sunrise summit of your nearest fell will be an easier task. Speed is an asset when you are against the clock so taking advantage of your fitness and skills is definitely encouraged. For the rest of us, however, hiking is the best option. As such, planning for time is the most essential part of summiting before the sunrise.
Typically, I take into consideration the length of the footpath from base to summit, times that by my typical mile pace and add 20 minutes for safety. The more experienced you are the less added safety minutes you’ll need but if you are hiking on a new trail or you are inexperienced, don’t be afraid to add however much time you feel you will need.
As speed is important, weight should be taken into account too. You are not thru-hiking and it should be easy to pack light. Here is what I’ll typically bring along on my morning summits:
Essential clothing to wear:
- Puffer jacket for when you reach the top (Patagonia Down Hoody)
- Trail running shoes (Altra Lone Peak 2.5s)
- Lightweight hiking trousers (Salomon Wayfarers)
- Synthetic long sleeve T-Shirt
- Fleece (Patagonia Snap-T)
Gear to use:
- Headlamp (Black Diamond Uomo Cosmo)
- Phone (useful for navigation as well as the inevitable selfie)
- Hiking Poles
- Trail running vest (Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra 5 – great for storing everything)
- 2 x 1-litre water bottles. Typically we’ll just reuse Smart Water bottles because they fit snug in the Salomon vest).
Nutrition to take:
- 2 litres of water (typically for a walk under five miles)
- 2 Cliff bars (around 510 calories total)
If you have any additional gear that you like to bring along for catching the sunrise atop your local mountains that you think we have missed, we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!